Friday 15 November 2019

Man hit wife over head with hammer on birthday, court told

Andrzej Benko
Andrzej Benko

Natasha Reid

A 42-year-old man has gone on trial, charged with attempting to murder his wife on her birthday by hitting her over the head with a hammer while she slept.

The court heard that the accused had left their home early on his wife's 32nd birthday, before returning with flowers for her.

However, the prosecutor said that instead of bringing the flowers upstairs to his sleeping wife, he brought up a lump hammer and hit her over the head with it at least three times.

The Central Criminal Court heard that the woman was now confined to a wheelchair most of the time, has communication difficulties and would depend on full-time care for the rest of her life.

Andrzej Benko, of Ladyswell Road, Mulhuddart, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of Joanna Benko at that address on July 5, 2010.

Dominic McGinn, prosecuting, told the jury it would have to decide whether Mr Benko intended to kill his wife when he assaulted her. The court heard a recording of the emergency call Mr Benko made as he drove to Blanchardstown garda station that morning.

"The problem is that probably I killed my wife and now I'm on my way to you to be jailed," he said. "Ring an ambulance. Maybe you can save her because I hit her by hammer in head."

Garda Rosanna Coll testified that he was "panicked and agitated" when he arrived at the station. He was afraid the emergency services hadn't understood him on the phone.

"She was in bed sleeping on her right side," he told her, adding that he'd hit her left temple three times with a hammer.

"She was shouting at me illogically every day since January," he said.

"When I was going upstairs, I intended to kill her," he said. "I wanted to, then didn't want, then want."

He said he used about 20pc of his force but the hammer was heavy.

"I wasn't thinking," he continued. "I was destroyed financially and emotionally."

When asked if he had anything to add, he claimed that his wife was associated with 'drug dealers and gangsters'.

"I'm guilty, I know," he said later. "I'm just praying she is to survive."

He said his wife had been taking drugs for a long time, had stopped taking amphetamines in 2005 and started smoking cannabis.

SEIZURE

He said that she had been spending money "illogically" since December 2009.

"I had no money for the mortgage and had to borrow," he said.

Dr Niamh Collins, who was taken to the scene by ambulance, said: "A large part of the bed was covered in blood. She had a significant left-side head injury in the temporal and eye area. She was having a seizure."

Dr Edward Mulligan, who treated Mrs Benko on her arrival in Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown, said a depressed left skull fracture showed up on a CT scan, along with extensive brain injuries.

He added: "She wasn't able to communicate very well. She had significant lack of power in her right arm and leg, indicating a problem to the left side of the brain."

He said she was able to sit up and use an electric wheelchair but had no speech by the time she was discharged in September 2011.

Clinical neuropsychologist Mark Mulrooney testified that when he assessed Mrs Benko last April, she was using one and two-word sentences,

"Her mother informed me that she'd regressed quite significantly in her ability to function as an adult," he added.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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